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She Wrote the Songs

by Patricia Hammond

A collective biography of the forgotten female hit-makers of the Victorian parlour.

Patricia Hammond appeared on BBC Radio 4 'Woman's Hour' talking about this book; if you missed the interview live, you can catch up here. You can also click here to hear a sumptuous sample of the companion CD, with the author singing a variety of songs discussed in the book. CD is available to buy separately here.

Parlour songs were the pop hits of the Victorian era – and some of the biggest hit-makers of the day were women. Barred from positions in universities, cathedrals and orchestras, this intimate, home-based musical genre was their only outlet. Sadly, their extraordinary contribution has largely been forgotten, overlooked by historians and marginalised in the timeline of music.

Now, British-Canadian singer Patricia Hammond is putting the record – or, rather, the sheet music – straight, telling tuneful tales of political reform, personal empowerment and the unique role women played in a fascinating period of British musical history.

‘Patricia Hammond rescues the songs and lives of female composers from ephemera, sheet music and weekly magazines. In doing so, she gives us a new insight into these working women and challenges the dismissal of their music as homely or amateur.’
— Dr Debbie Challis, The Women's Library / Library of the London School of Economics

‘Superb, well-researched ... Hammond makes a strong case for this "domestic" music, having sifted through the archives – including her own impressive collection of parlour sheet music – to tell the stories of this overlooked genre and its talented composers.’
– Claire Jackson, BBC Music Magazine


Born on Canada’s West Coast, Patricia Hammond has lived in the UK since 2001. She has forged a versatile career as a singer, performing opera in Athens and Wexford, oratorio throughout Europe, and ragtime in a 1911 battle bus at the London Transport Museum. Her recordings have been played on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4, and can be heard on the film soundtrack of Tolkien

She has written articles for Telegraph Magazine, The Lancet Psychiatry and the Mail on Sunday. From 2013 to 2017 she wrote a music column for Chap, a vintage lifestyle magazine. She has a passion for popular song from the 1910s and finding creative places to perform it. Her first book She Wrote the Songs was published by Valley Press in August 2020.


Edition: First

Date Published: 2020-08-20

ISBN: 9781908853585

Catalogue Number: VP0116

Number of Pages: 128

Cover design by Fitzpatrick Designs

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